What's up with Trevor Hoffman?

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Trevor Hoffman 2.jpgAs I mentioned in the recaps this morning, Trevor Hoffman got creamed last night. He came in to preserve a 3-2 lead in the ninth against the Pirates, but gave up a leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno which tied the game. He then loaded the bases
and gave up a grand slam to Ryan Doumit. Both homers were hit really hard.

Hoffman has
now blown three saves, has given up five homers in eight innings after allowing only two in 54
innings last season. I mentioned his reluctance to use his changeup this morning, but as Tom Haudricort notes, that has an awful lot to do with not getting his fastball over the plate early in the count to get ahead (and then having to throw his fastball over the plate late in the count, which looks like batting practice).

Hoffman is a legend and everything so it’s not like he’s going to suddenly
lose his job, but Ken Macha has to be concerned. If the struggles continue, he’s going to have to look for another closer. Where to go if Hoffman continues to not get the job done?  LaTroy Hawkins is a possibility, but it’s not like he’s pitching very well this year himself (8.64 ERA). Maybe the best bet would be Carlos Villanueva, who has struck out 14 guys in 11 innings, only allowing 5 hits.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, though, and here’s hoping Hoffman can turn it around.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.